- Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Dave and Karen Holm started On Site Sanitation (which later became On Site Companies) in 1989 with a rusty old blue chevy with no floorboards, heat that blasted on high at all times, and an old brick cell phone in the back pocket. Each summer, the entire extended family would come together to help to build portable restrooms in the garage. What started with 50 units in St Paul, Minnesota, has grown to include more than 10,000 units servicing the upper Midwest with 5 branch locations, and multiple product lines.
Over the past 33 years, our product line has grown to include luxury restroom trailers, shower trailers, temporary climate control for construction and special events, ground thaw and concrete curing.
In 2018 my brother and I officially purchased the company from Dave and Karen embarking on our own entrepreneurial journey.
- Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
I have officially been with the company for 20 years this April. I have done everything in field, however my expertise is in the office. I started in human resources, developed a new payroll process that worked for our team, and was more cost effective. I also worked in accounting, dispatch, Customer service. I still answer the phones to this day. I find it is a great way to stay connected to our customer, and in touch with the processes needed in order to execute orders.
I graduated from St Thomas University in St Paul Minnesota with a degree in business administration, and a focus specifically on Family business. Family business is a completely different dynamic that I do not believe that any corporation can give. While there are pros and cons to each, type of organization, I truly have a passion for family business. I strive to know each and every person’s name, their spouse, and their children’s names.
- What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
As second-generation owners, my brother and I grew up in and around this industry. It has been a part of our lives for as long we can remember. While I never thought I would grow up to be a part of the company that my parents gave their blood, sweat and tears to, I can honestly say that the best decision I have ever made was to quit my corporate retail job and come work for On Site. While most people do not recognize the importance of portable restrooms, and tend to give a negative perception of them, I see the good that we are doing in the communities that we service in providing safe, reliable, sanitation that contributes to the overall health and wellness of the community.
- What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Determine what your core values are. Communicate your plans and strategies and treat others well.
Have Integrity, Work Hard, and surround yourself with others who have integrity and work hard.
- How many hours do you work a day on average?
It is all a balancing and juggling act, especially now that I have a family of my own. If you ask how many hours I am at the office – 6-8 each day. If you ask how many hours I work – 8-10 hours. If you ask how many hours a day, the company is on my mind – 24/7. When you have drivers out on the road at all hours of the day and night, it is hard to turn off the worry you carry, praying each one of them get home safely to their families at the end of each day.
- To what do you most attribute your success?
My Brother and I cannot run this company alone, we have the most fantastic team that shares the same core values, help to support and execute the growth vision that we have established for our company.
We also have strong relationships with many of our vendors. I say vendors but they are far more than vendors. They are our partners, in some cases they are our mentors, and I truly value working with them. Our CPA, Attorney, and banker all who essentially act as a modified board of directors. This team has been with us for the past 20 years, and I know that they have our backs.
- How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Keeping your brand in front of your target market has been the most impact ful marketing for us.
- Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
We are lucky enough to be able to be a financially strong organization. We maintain a great relationship with our banker, who also acts as a strong sounding board and partner while we navigate our growth.
- What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Treat your relationships well. Always do the right thing, even if it will negatively impact you in the short term, knowing you can hold your head high will keep you moving towards long term success
- Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Our goal is to continue to grow our company in order to provide professional opportunities to both our customers and our employees.
- Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A company out of Chicago Illinois, Service Sanitation is one that Russ and I have looked up to for many years. They emulate many of the same values, and have created success within their own company.
- How important have good employees been to your success?
Having a strong team is instrumental. It is hands down, the most important thing. We are so fortunate to have many long term employees that have stuck with us through the years, going through the growing pains, changes, and they have been resilient through it all. They are simply remarkable.
- How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I’ll let you know – Haven’t given up yet.
- What motivates you?
Our team. I have had the privilege to watch various individuals, grow up in the company, develop their skills, develop their passion for their career, and start their own families. This is what keeps me striving to do better, be better, and continue to give others opportunities to grow professionally, and provide for their family.
- How do you generate new ideas?
Russ is our visionary, He continually keeps a pulse on the industries that we are involved in, he researches new markets, products that may be a good fit with our company, customer base, and financial capability.
- How do you define success?
Success to Russ and I is to grow our company, be profitable, have happy, and healthy employees, and satisfied customers.
- How do you build a successful customer base?
For our company it is imperative to have diversification within our customer base. We service a wide variety of customer in many segmentations ranging from Commercial construction to back yard projects. Each one of these customers is important to our success, and our long term sustainability.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Watching the team come together to execute several large special events that occurred at the same time when a competitor was unable to perform. Everyone in the company jumped right in. we had order entry, accounting, dispatch, sales, Management, and leadership all pitching in to ensure that the units were delivered, serviced, and executed in a timely manner. I could not have been more proud of my team.
- What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
An entrepreneur is one who is willing to take on the risk of an opportunity.
- What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Our culture consists of hardworking individuals who care about our people our customers and our mission. We have created this culture by retaining the those who share our core values and understand it takes a cooperative team to achieve the goals that lead to company success. We strive for this culture because everyone wants a good environment that supports each other through teamwork, training, safety and most importantly and environment of caring.
- In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
- How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being a second-generation business owner, my brother and I watched our parents work in the business for their entire careers. While we were growing up, we also worked in the business. We were cheap child labor. If we wanted to have food on the table, or keep the roof over our head, we had to be a part of the business, and help out. Our family life revolved around the company. That was where we learned the definition of hard work. We learned so much from watching our parents. They built a really successful company from sheer dedication and determination.
When we purchased the company, Russ and I looked at each other and asked how do we change the structure of this company so that we are working on rather than in the business? We watched our parents work 12 hours a day and still show up in a pump truck to catch 10 minutes of a soccer game, before they went back to work. We knew that we did not want that for our young families.
Early on in our ownership we read the book Traction by Gino Wickman who developed the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). We instantly knew this would make a dramatic change for our company, and for our families.
We developed a leadership team that helped to spread the responsibilities of management, which in turn has brought huge growth.
While the stress of owning a business is always there, I carry it with me, the development of the leadership team, and having the right people in the right seats, has eased the stress immensely.
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in business?\
The biggest mistakes that I have made, have been in not making necessary changes quick enough. Though they have never been detrimental to the organization, not making the changes needed did hold us back from growth potential.
- How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
There will always be mistakes, we are all human, but it is in how we react to those mistakes, that we can learn, grow, and do better.
I find that most mistakes are made because we are in a reactive mode rather than being proactive.
For more information visit us at https://onsiteco.com